Neil Young – Impeach the President
Neil Young is set to release an album of war protest songs, including a song entitled, “Impeach the President.”
It started as a rumour – gossip shared by fans on internet chat sites. Could it true, they asked? Could Neil Young, a cultural lodestone for a generation of country rock fans, really be turning his attention to President George Bush and the war in Iraq? Now Young himself has confirmed it. Not only has he recorded an entire album about the conflict, but in one of the songs he spells out who he thinks is to blame for the ongoing chaos and violence and what the consequences for that person should be. That track is called “Impeach the President”.
“I just finished a new record – a power trio with trumpet and 100 voices,” the 60-year-old says in a ticker-tape message posted at the bottom of his official website. “Metal folk protest? It’s called Living with the War.”
Further details about the album came from Jonathan Demme, the film maker who produced the recently released documentary Heart of Gold about the singer-songwriter. “Neil just finished writing and recording – with no warning – a new album called Living With War,” he told the music magazine Harp by e-mail. “It all happened in three days … It is a brilliant electric assault, accompanied by a 100-voice choir, on Bush and the war in Iraq … Truly mind blowing. Will be in stores soon.”
Those who have followed Young’s twisting career, stretching over more than four decades – from the psychedelia-tinged rock of the folk-rock band Buffalo Springfield in the Sixties, his joining up with Crosby, Stills, and Nash, his huge solo success in 1972 with Harvest, as well as the experimentation of the Eighties and finally his return to country rock – may be a little surprised by Young’s decision to launch such a blunt political assault against the Bush administration.
Indeed, in the aftermath of the al-Qa’ida attacks on the US of 11 September 2001, it seemed that Young had taken the side with the President and supported the steps he was taking in the so-called “war on terror”. Having written a song, “Let’s Roll”, to honour the passengers on board United Airlines’ Flight 93 who apparently fought with the hijackers and forced the plane to crash-land in rural Pennsylvania rather than letting them use it to target the White House, he announced his support for the Patriot Act. The Act, which gave law-enforcement bodies a whole range of new powers, was condemned by many campaigners as an assault on civil liberties. Young said at the time he thought the legislation was necessary.
Speaking at an awards banquet in Hollywood where he had received the Spirit of Liberty award by the liberal campaign group People for the American Way, Young announced: “To protect our freedoms it seems we’re going to have to relinquish some of our freedoms for a short period of time.” But now it appears that for whatever reason, the Canadian-born singer’s support for President Bush has run it’s course and that his latest incarnation is as a protest singer. He has joined list of musicians such as the Dixie Chicks, Lou Reed, Dave Matthews, Steve Earle and REM who have used their platforms to speak out against the war or the administration in general. His song urging that Mr Bush be impeached reportedly accuses him of “lying” and features a rap with the President’s voice set against the choir singing “flip-flop” – an accusation Mr Bush and other Republicans aimed at John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, during the 2004 election campaign.
Meanwhile the lyrics to the new album’s title track include the words: “I’m living with war right now, And when the dawn breaks I see my fellow man, And on the flat screen we kill and we’re being killed again, And when the night falls I pray for peace, Try to remember peace.”
That Young would make a strong stand on a political issue is hardly “surprising;” it pretty much describes his entire career. Indeed, it was his post-9/11 stance that was a departure from the norm, not this.